Five day meal plan

5 Day Backcountry Meal Plan

In the near future I’m going to be spending 5 days in Glacier National Park hiking the Many Glacier Loop. One of the things even experienced backpackers are always curious about is what someone else brings for food. Eating the same thing trip after trip gets old fast especially if you spend a decent amount of time outdoors. Here are my thoughts on how to eat well in the woods on a five day trip.

For meal planning the general rule of thumb states that in the summer pack about 1.5 lbs of food a day and during the winter pack about 2 lbs of food a day. For fall (we are going in the end of September) that means about 1.75 lbs of food a day. Overpacking food a tad (especially trail mix) is never a bad idea “just in case”.

For me personally I don’t like to eat a ton of food in any one sitting (for some reason I seem to lose my appetite when I backpack) so I eat a lot more snacks and lighter lunches/dinners. Also, for longer trips (5 days vs 2-3 days) I like to bring more real food rather than eating just bars and freeze dried dinners. After a couple days energy bars and freeze dried food tastes like chalk.

Other things to consider is the type of cooking system you use. I use a lightweight stove (the Jetboil Sol Ti) which really only boils water. If you try to cook anything with it you will scorch the pot and melt the heat spreader fins on the bottom. That means all the meals I cook need to be easily prepared by boiling water, turning the stove off, then pouring in the ingredients to re-hydrate.

Here is a list of what I’ll probably be packing:


Trail mix (cashews, m&m’s, dried cherries, granola clusters & dried apricots)

  • 1/2 of a zip lock sandwich bag per day.
  • I make my own from the bulk bins at the grocery store. Its cheaper and I get to pick only the things I like.
  • The dried apricots are specifically included due to their high potassium levels. Potassium helps to regulate your body’s fluid levels and aids in muscular function and waste removal. Both keys to maintaining a high level of physical output. Raisins also have high potassium levels if you are a more traditional trail mix kind of person.

Gummy bears/Happy Cola/Peach O’s

  • Roughly 1/2 a pack of gummy candy per day
  • For some reason gummy candy really appeals to me when I’m in the backcountry.

Caffeinated Jelly Beans (5 packs)

  • 1 pack per day for the afternoon when I start to drag

Snickers Bars (5)

  • The original energy bar.

Breakfast (4 Servings)

Instant Oatmeal w/dehydrated fruit, chia seeds and cinnamon

  • Raisins/cranberries/apple/blueberries (a different dehydrated fruit for each day)
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds per day – they are super high in protein (4.7g per tablespoon) and they add a nice crunch
  • Cinnamon, besides tasting good, has a ton of cinnamaldehyde which is responsible for the numerous health benefits of cinnamon. These include the slowing stomach emptying by curbing the sharp rise in blood sugar following meals as well as improving the effectiveness, or sensitivity of insulin – aka you don’t crash part way through your hike. Cinnamon is also a natural anti-inflammatory helping to reduce the swelling of joints that many people experience while hiking.

Instant Coffee w/ Hot Chocolate Mix (4 servings)

  • I don’t really like black coffee so I mix in a packet of hot coco to add creaminess and sugar.

Lunch (5 Servings)

Day 1

  • Turkey sandwich (I normally pick one up from the sub shop on the way to the trail.)
  • Powdered Kool-Aid (I like to have some kind of powdered drink mix at lunch to mix things up and get a break from water.)

Day 2

  • Peanut butter (2 packets of Justin’s Single Serve Nut Butter) & apple
  • Powdered Kool-Aid

Day 3

  • Mini Summer Sausage/Hard Cheese/Crackers
  • Powdered Kool-Aid

Day 4

  • Powdered Hummus & Carrots (carrots if left unpeeled actually last quite some time in your backpack)
  • Powdered Kool-Aid

Day 5

  • Tuna Salad w/Crackers (I get a foil packet of tuna which is way easier to deal with than the can and grab a couple packets of mayo, relish, and mustard from the grocery store deli. Squeeze them into the foil pouch that the tuna comes in and mix it all up.)
  • Powdered Kool-Aid

Dinner (4 Servings)

Top Raman with dried seaweed and freeze dried shrimp (2 servings)

  • 2 packets of top ramen per dinner (4 total)
  • You can find dried seaweed and freeze dried shrimp at most asian grocery stores. They are nice easy additions to spice up top raman that are light and nutritious. While you are there you can pick up top ramen that is way better than what you will find in most traditional american grocery stores.

Mac & Cheese with bacon and sun dried tomatoes (2 servings)

  • One of my all time favorite backpacking meals and its super easy too. Boil the water and poor in the noodles, while stirring constantly bring the water back to a boil, cover and shut the stove off. Let it sit for roughly 10 min (stirring occasionally so the noodles don’t glob up) and poor out most of the water (you want just a little bit left to take the place of milk in the recipe). Next poor in the bacon bits, cheese powder, sun dried tomatoes, and a small serving of butter. Mix it all up and you have the best meal ever. Side note: Sun dried tomatoes are also high in potassium.
  • Kraft or any other kind of boxed mac and cheese works. The butter and sun dried tomatoes can both be put into a zip lock bag. Seal it and then tape it shut to keep the butter from accidentally leaking out.

Dessert (4 Servings)

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies/Oreos/Fig Newtons/Brownie (1 per day)
  • Hot Tea

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